MOVIE REVIEW: Friend Request

Social Media Horror.  Last year we had the entertaining film called Unfriended, and while it wasn’t outstanding it was at the very least fun times in the cinema.  So how does this new Social Media based horror stack up?

A young College girl, Laura, who is incredibly popular and loved starts a friendship with a mysterious loner girl called Marina.  After the friendship turns sour very quickly the loner girl kills herself in a strange ritualistic manner.  After this the Social Media that fills the lives of the popular kids turns against them driving them to kill themselves.  A message from Marina telling Laura that she will always be alone seems to be more than just a dying girls rant.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love horror films, from the best produced pieces of scares to the cheap and nasty, there is always something that you can enjoy in them.  What I really love is the clarity of the storytelling process that we see in these films.  Okay, I’ll admit that they are usually formulaic, with very little in the way of advancing the genre, but it’s like a nice warm security blanket that you can fall into at the end of a hard days work, and if I ever do a hard days work I’ll be sure to let you know.

So Laura is like a walking cliché of a character, the kind of A-Typical college girl characters, massively popular, social media is a massive part of her life, and her hundreds of Facebook friends seem to love her.  This is a type of character we see a lot in these types of films, caring but easily pushed over the edge, and Alycia Debnam-Carey  plays it simply.  Just another pretty girl in a horror film, nothing special about her performance.  Her opposite is Marina, who is a loner with a mysterious past, a rather one-dimensional character really, and kills herself after Laura unfriends her.  It’s a shame that the character is so underused here because I get the feeling that Liesl Ahlers who plays Marina has a greater talent that is shown here.

My problem with this film is that it’s muddled, they don’t know where they are going with the characters and rush through the back story of Marina when it should have been the main part of the film.  The deaths of the friends of Laura are all okay, there is nothing exceptional about what we are seeing here, and there is nothing new added to the genre as a whole.  Not that there has to be, but you’d think that using Social Media as a basis of a film would somehow inspire a new direction.  The unclear story means that you don’t get involved with the characters, there is a feeling that the film tries to be like Final Destination, but without the depth.  When we do get into the past of Marina it’s like an afterthought, and even then they don’t make it clear what brought her to this point in her life.

I got the feeling that the film makers were trying to make some kind of point about Social Media abuse and stalking.  If that’s what they wanted to say then it may have been a better but different movie.  If they just wanted to make a slasher movie I would have been more entertained.  But they wanted to do it all, adding in supernatural and witchcraft elements, and only managed to fail.

I’m always careful when I say if a film is worth going to see in the cinema or waiting for it to be shown for home viewing through whatever form of movie rentals are going on these days.  I think it’s fair that if a reviewer does anything it should be to say where this movie would be best played.  The costly and irritation of the modern cinema is a put off for me most of the time, other people shouldn’t be allowed in to the cinema after I pay what is the price of an all you can eat buffet.  There are films that are worth going to see on the big screen, and I’m going to say that in my opinion Friend Request should be watched at home, if at all.

Director: Simon Verhoeven
Writers: Matthew Ballen, Philip Koch, Simon Verhoeven
Stars: Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, Connor Paolo


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